While attending a live workshop with Elizabeth Gilbert last week, I was excited to learn that we have something quite unexpected in common: “monkey mind” as she called it. Like her, I wake up in the morning (between 5:30 and 6, like clockwork, although I can’t vouch for the fact that she is an early bird) and my mind immediately goes to work.
What day is it?
What was with that weird dream?
I think I left laundry in the dryer.
I wish the dog would stop kicking me.
I have to pee.
This barrage of thoughts follows me until I stumble my way into the kitchen and brew my first cup of coffee. I then sit down in my morning chair and focus on devotions, journaling and meditation to find peace.
Early in sobriety, I found peace by setting a daily intention, which I documented on Instagram with the phrase “fill the day”. Trying to focus on one positive way of thinking throughout the day felt far less overwhelming than trying to remember all the ways I needed to exhibit “on the beam” thinking, a phrase often spouted in recovery.
I’ve returned to that practice recently, as my thoughts can easily snowball from what to have for breakfast to when the world is going to end. I’ve stretched it out to weekly, however, to retrain my brain to hold focus longer. The word or idea gives me a true north I can return to throughout the week. It also helps me recognize synchronicities in my journey. My intention for this week was HONOR, and it showed up in ways I never expected.
I began the week expecting to honor my creative fire. I have felt called to promote the message of courage and compassion while also being busier than ever at work. I’m trying to figure out what nutrition looks like post-Whole 30. My screen time is climbing while my movement grinds to a halt. And all of that is okay. I know the shorter days of winter are coming and all of this energy will wind down. I honor the seasons of life far more than I have in the past.
One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of honor is 'to give special recognition', and as I allowed this intention to seep into my life over the course of the week, it began to expand into a living gratitude list.
Honor looks like family.
My mom embraced technology and created a family group in the Marco Polo app. It is so fun to see everyone sharing their experiences despite being scattered in all different directions right now. My parents are making their annual trek to Colorado, my brother and sister-in-law are moving to east Texas as empty nesters, my nieces are preparing for new college semesters, and my nephew just got engaged. The pandemic may prevent our family camping trips but we can stay connected until we are together again.
For over a year, I wanted my artist friend to created a piece using brooches my mother gave me. She makes beautiful clay collages and I thought this would be the perfect way to honor them. Stuck on a dress form in my bedroom, layered under necklaces, they've been more like adornments for an inanimate object than treasured pieces of my lineage. My friend handed off her creations several weeks ago, and this week I finally found the perfect shadow box showcase. I showed my mom, and she reminded me the history of each pin. It's a beautiful way to honor our past.
Honor looks like victory.
I am great at playing a support role for others, but I often neglect to honor my own successes. Jen Pastiloff, who I've often credited for contributing to my personal growth, hosted last Sunday's workshop. At her in-person workshop last year, I used the word "brave" to describe myself for the very first time. This week, in the comfort of my own home, the tears flowed as I wrote "I'm proud of you" in a letter from my heart.
I knew I was strong enough to honor my journey without layering on shame, so later in the week, I retrieved an old photo from the closet. I found it last year while organizing Kodaks, which have gone by the wayside in favor of Google photos. I was surprised it even existed. I was sitting on a college friend's balcony, smirk on my face and cigarette in hand. I have a surprising recollection of that night, although it may be pieced together by other photographic evidence. We were a band of drunken misfits but full of love for one another. One went on to be a DJ, one a family man, the others-who knows.
What I do know is that the girl in that photo wanted everyone else to love her because she couldn't love herself. Honor can also mean 'to treat someone with respect'. I respect that young woman for doing the best she could while battling depression, codependency, and alcohol addiction for two decades. I'm grateful I made the choice to respect myself enough to get sober, which led to a better grasp of how to conquer the other two.
I no longer hold the word "honor" in the same high regard I did, thinking it was something which could only be bestowed on someone as the president wrapped a medal around their neck (in fact, an exercise in Jen's workshop is to give yourself a f***ing medal). So many different aspects of my life are worthy of the admiration, respect, and recognition defined by honor. Its use as a verb allows me stand in gratitude for each of them.
“Humility forms the basis of honor, just as the low ground forms the foundation of a high elevation.” -Bruce Lee